Sunday, December 26, 2004

Mozart's skull DNA'd

Ok, one new item to the list of ancient celebrities whose 'remains' have recently been DNA'd for verification.

Will we all have DNA markers on our graves in the future?

A few weeks ago, I read this morning in an article by Associated Press's Susanna Loof, that DNA tests could soon confirm if a skull held by the International Mozarteum Foundation is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The skull was acquired in 1902, but some experts believe it belongs to a woman. Others submit to the evaluation made a few years ago by by French anthropologists from the University of Provence. Their analisys on the teeth indicates that the skull had belonged to a man between 25 and 40 years of age. Moreover, superimposed photographs on pictures of Amadeus, show that the skull's high cheekbones and the egg-shaped forehead fit in quite well.

Apparently, a grave in Salzburg thought to contain the remains of Mozart's father and other relatives is being scanned by archaeologists to collect the appropriate DNA. Last Monday, they found Mozart's niece, Jeanette who died at 16. Along with Leopold and Constanze, Mozart's wife, there are seven other skeletons.

In any event, confirmation results will only be available for discussion early next year.

It is known that Mozart died in 1791 and was buried in an unmarked grave for the pennyless at Vienna's St. Marxer Cemetery. The location of the grave was initially unknown, but its likely location was determined in 1855. Says Ms. Loof: "The grave on that spot is adorned by a column and a sad-looking angel.


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